Things for which Aviation should be Thankful

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Flying this week? Have no fear
The press coverage of aviation is quite positive these days. The message that the aviation professionals are doing their job and doing it well is being received by the mainstream press. This article recites the impressive statistics that airlines have accumulated. The author took the time to learn the details of the business and to relate them to his readers. Included in his litany of what aviation does to assure high safety performance is a short explanation of the pilots’ walk around (pictured above). Such attention to the minutiae of what aviation professionals do is likely to reassure the traveling public.

That image, however, also serves to remind all who work in the aviation world how such intense scrutiny of the little things that matter so much to the performance of our jobs really have consequences. It is easy when the tasks are so repetitive to make such assignments routine, to have the vision needed to fade from a microscopic examination to a quick, uncritical glance. It requires discipline to maintain the high level of attention to detail that our jobs demand.

So for what should we, as aviation professionals, be thankful? First, the fact that our past performance has created a record, which even the general press now understands and easily conveys to their readers, our passengers. Second and most importantly, we should appreciate the self-reinforcing safety culture which you, your peers, your company and our industry have created. When one goes to work with the confidence that your tough calls will be backed by your supervisor, that’s a good thing. Further, when you know that the company across the field is doing the same thing, that expectation assures that safety will be the predominant consideration in all airline decisions and that’s an excellent attribute that our business has adopted.

Another dimension of our appreciation should extend to the FAA. The executives and staff who regulate aviation have helped create this more positive atmosphere. Their initiative to collect and utilize data now focuses our collective consciousness on things which we might do better. That, in turn, has shifted the industry philosophy to a more preventative strategy and contributed to the current positive track record. For that important strategic sea change, we should be MOST thankful.

On Turkey Day, we pull back from the table satiated from a surfeit of good food and due to the chemistry of our meal, we are inclined to take a nap. There can be no tryptophan in aviation safety. Our egos are appropriately stuffed with equal portions of good numbers and great press, but we cannot succumb to the temptation of resting on our laurels, SMS and safety culture do not allow any pauses in our constant drive for every improving performance in our jobs. That 1,000th walk around must be performed with the same visual acuity for signs of problems as the 1st flight.

We, in aviation, have a lot for which to be thankful, but that contentment cannot result in any diminution of our drive to prevent problems and assure that the daily tasks never become mundane.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING to all of us in aviation.

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